Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Wants to 'Finish the Job' and Bring Recovery

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Wants to 'Finish the Job' and Bring Recovery

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

DAVID Cameron has dismissed fears that uncertainty over Britain's future in the European Union could threaten hundreds of jobs in the North East.

Speaking to the Journal as he prepared for the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister insisted firms actually welcomed his pledge to hold a referendum on EU membership after the next election. It follows the warning earlier this year from Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, that Nissan could slash investment in its flagship North East car factory if Britain quits the EU.

Mr Clegg revealed Nissan bosses said their PS420m investment in the Sunderland plant, which is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs including 1,500 in the supply chain, was only possible because of EU membership.

But from Downing Street, the Prime Minister insisted plans for a referendum actually made investment more secure.

He said: "Of course I understand people's concerns. What I would say is the way to end uncertainty about Britain's position is to secure a negotiation in our interests and then have a referendum and secure our future in a reformed European Union.

"That is the that is the right thing for business, the right thing for Britain and that is why I'm doing it."

Highlighting his visit to the Sunderland factory, where he attended the official launch of production the electric LEAF vehicle, he said: "If you look at what Nissan, Honda, Toyota are actually doing, I am very encouraged they are building their new models in Britain, they are investing in Britain, they are employing more people in Britain.

"I was very struck on my last visit to Nissan they are choosing not only the Nissan LEAF to be built in Britain but also future models as well.

"So I'm confident that we can secure the future that these companies want.

"This plan of re-negotiation and then a referendum, I think business understands that having a plan brings more certainty than not having a plan."

Mr Cameron also insisted he remained firmly committed to building a new North-South rail line despite criticism of the project, also known as High Speed Two or HS2. Ministers and the rail industry insist a new network is needed because existing rail lines are running out of capacity, but there has been criticism of the estimated PS50.1bn cost, which includes PS16.1bn in contingency funding and PS5.8bn for new trains.

Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, suggested at Labour's conference last week that Labour might prefer to spend the money on other things.

Mr Cameron said: "On HS2, we will be making the case very strongly for it. The rest of the world is adopting high speed rail technology. We should be doing the same."

The rail network needed extra capacity, he said. …

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